This year’s victorious candidates, like so many winners before them, aren’t prevailing simply or even mainly because of the labels they’re wearing or the precise points on the political spectrum to which they can be affixed.
They’re powered by their personalities, their organizations or both. They communicate effectively. They have backgrounds that make sense to voters or temperaments that feel right to them. And they’ve devised ways to reach voters that their rivals haven’t.
The lesson of 2018 isn’t novel. But it’s overlooked because it doesn’t come wrapped in fancy analytics, it can’t be integrated into sweeping pronouncements about the arc of America, and it transcends our beloved binaries of progressive versus moderate and blue versus red.
Candidates matter. Campaigns count. Voters use more than bullet points, spreadsheets and the marching orders of the Democratic Socialists of America or the New Democrat Coalition to make decisions. We use our hearts. We use our guts. (Sometimes we even use our minds, though not nearly often enough.)